Updated: Dec 28, 2020
I belong to an exclusive club called ‘Those of us left behind after a suicide.’ Though exclusive, it's not a pleasant club. There are no leisure activities, no dream vacations. No one ever applies for this club membership. Many members do not even want you to know they are in the club. In this club, members deal with grief. They must also take on two different types of grief; one for their own life, left bereft and empty because their loved one is gone, and another one, a deep mourning for the sad life of that loved one.
Unless you have experienced losing someone to suicide, you can never understand what it's like. You may know members of this club, and they may tell you about their experiences -- they may even stand before you and cry, thrash, and scream. Others may be stoic, offering tight little smiles, assuring you that “Everything’s OK, thanks for asking.” But unless it has happened to you, you can never fully understand the depths of their pain, and as much as you may want to help them, you can't be part of The Club.
My brother Gary and I were very close. I helped him to cope with his depression as best as I could; I was his rock. He had attempted suicide twice before and failed. I had always suspected he would die by his own hand one day, and I thought I had accepted it and would be prepared for it. I wasn't. I was not prepared at all. I was not prepared for the phone call that informed me of his death.
I never imagined I would lose control like I did, running and screaming up and down the hallway, out the front door and throwing myself on the grass, pounding it and sobbing, “No! No! No!” I never wanted my 3-year-old daughter to see something like this, her mother totally out of control, utterly devastated and inconsolable beyond words. I didn't want my neighbours to come running over and drag me inside the house screaming. This was not in the plan of my Perfect Life. I didn't plan to be a pallbearer at my brother's funeral or deliver his eulogy in perfect composure to make him proud of me. No, I was not prepared. Nothing could have steeled me against this news. It hit me hard, and then it knocked me down. I could barely get up. I knew everything had changed, from that moment forward. There was no turning back.
When Gary died, my whole life changed dramatically. My marriage failed, and I had to go back to work on a full-time basis. Then I was dealt another blow to test me that little bit further. Only a few months after Gary’s death, I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, a debilitating, painful disease.
Naturally, I did not cope with things very well at all right after Gary’s death. I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach, knocking all th